Joe (Giuseppe) and Maisie Cinanni, from Applecross parish, have been married for 50 years.
The couple were married in St Joachim’s Church, Victoria Park, on June 16, 1962, but on Sunday, September 23, were “shocked and surprised” to receive a papal blessing via St Benedict’s Parish Priest, Fr Peter Whitely, after the 6pm Mass.
It also happens to be St Benedict’s parish’s 60th anniversary and Fr Peter Whitely’s 40th anniversary of priesthood, both celebrated on September 1 at a parish dinner-dance.
Maisie, 72, was born in Cuxton, in Kent, England, on March 24, 1940, the eldest of three children of Charles and Nora Randall who brought their family to Australia in 1956 and settled in the Riverina area of NSW.
Her parents returned to England in 1959, and unfortunately missed their daughter’s wedding in Perth.
Maisie and Joe met in 1957 when both worked in the office at John Allan department store in South Perth and Victoria Park, and started going out together in 1958.
Joe, 77, was born in Locri in Calabria, Italy, “on the toe”, Maisie said, on June 11, 1935, the eldest of seven children of Vincenzo and Giuseppina Cinanni.
Sadly, his mother died when he was nine, and his father remarried, his stepmother being Caterina.
Speaking only two words of English – “shut-up” – he came to Perth on the ship Cyrenia with his uncles and brother Tony, at the age of 15 and a half, and went to Serpentine primary school for 16 months.
“A lot of kids left school at 15,” Maisie said and Joe said, “I had probably the best primary schooling ever,” even though he was much older than the other children there.
He joined John Allan store at the age of 20; his old boss there and Citizens’ Military Force captain were his mentors, he told The Record.
After their honeymoon in Carnarvon, they lived in Como for three years, then moved to a 40-hectare farm at Mullalyup, near Balingup, in 1965, where they had cows, pigs and an orchard, which Joe bought with his brother Tony.
But when he left, the property was too big for the two of them to work and they had three girls by then – Julia, Katrina and Amanda, the two elder ones born in Perth.
Maisie loved the animals on the farm and cried when they left the property in April, 1970.
Joe said he didn’t want to work in an office after the farm, so he started in real estate, “working all hours day and night and I was on my own,” Maisie said. They lived in Bicton.
In 1978, Joe joined the Fini Group, and sold homes for the company for 24 years, retiring in 2002.
Joe suggested that Maisie should study and she did a mature-age matriculation, studying from home by correspondence.
She wanted to be a teacher, but they wanted someone full-time, so she enrolled at the WA Institute of Technology – now Curtin University – to do an Arts degree in 1974 at the age of 34.
“I thought that I would be a high school teacher,” Maisie said, “and only a few people could get into Social Work.”
“It was a bit of a challenge and I got in – it just grew like Topsy, and it took me six years – four years part-time and the last two years on prac.
“Then I worked for the Department of Community Welfare – the children were at school – and then I got a promotion to the Family Court, and for 15 years was a counsellor there, in the mid-1980s, retiring in 1999.”
In 1980, the family moved from Bicton to Booragoon, where the couple still live.
Maisie wasn’t a Catholic when they married and is now “a pillar of the Church.”
“The kids wondered why I didn’t go to Communion,” Maisie said, so she went to lessons in the Catholic faith with Sr Assumpta at Hilton, and was confirmed by Fr Dowling at Palmyra church in about 1977-78.
Joe’s stepmother was at St Benedict’s church and the parish priest there at the time, Fr John O’Reilly, said: “You are my fringe-dwellers,” as they should have been in the Myaree parish.
Maisie and Joe were on the Applecross parish council; Maisie is a commentator, reader and special minister; they were on the new church building committee, organised dinners and trips, and Joe still does church maintenance.
They have six grandchildren – two boys and four girls – aged 21 to 16 months, and their daughters live within 10 minutes of their home.
All of Joe’s brothers and sisters and Maisie’s sister and brother live in WA, but Joe’s uncles and aunts live around the world.
They celebrated their golden wedding anniversary at a Sicilian restaurant in Italy, with 14 good friends.
They first went back to Italy, after 40 years for Joe, in 1990, and have travelled to England and Canada to see relatives.Maisie is interested in genealogy and says, “We are swamped by Cinannis.” Joe likes meeting his friends and relatives at the WA Italian Club.